Former ABR Neuroradiology Trustee Remembered for Service and Leadership
By Eric Russell, MD, ABR Volunteer
A longtime ABR trustee and committee member and my dearest friend, Robert D. Zimmerman, MD, passed away after a prolonged illness, in the presence of his beloved wife Ellen and his two children, Max and Molly, on October 5.
A magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University, he received his MD degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. I met Bob in the residency program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. When Bob returned as faculty after his fellowship at George Washington University, I was the chief resident and we hit it off. His infectious love for his specialty and his clinical excellence and dedication to teaching led me to follow in his footsteps, and we remained close friends for over 40 years.
Bob went on to a stellar career at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center, and was a highly sought after expert as referring physicians came to rely on his opinions. His enduring interest in teaching and education led to many important roles, including residency and fellowship program director and vice chair for education and faculty development. Many of his trainees went on to become regional and national leaders. He was a productive researcher, with more than 115 peer-reviewed publications, including seminal research papers during the early days of CT and MRI. A gifted speaker, he was highly sought after for visiting professorships.
Bob served for 20 years as an ABR oral board examiner, during the time we brought our own test cases to display on view boxes. Later, when we were members of the Neuroradiology Certifying and Subspecialty Exam Committee, I observed firsthand his excellence at question creation, his depth of knowledge, his discerning eye in identifying appropriate and fair questions for the exam, and his pithy sense of humor that always lightened the mood during long hours of exam creation.
Recognition of his educational prowess led to his selection as one of eight members of the Radiology Residency Review Committee (RRC), and he served from 2004-2012. He spent countless hours reviewing and monitoring radiology programs across the country, as well as working tirelessly to define training requirements for radiology residents, neuroradiology fellows, and endovascular surgical neuroradiology fellows. He made important contributions to the revision of training standards in accordance with new ACGME requirements while limiting additional administrative burdens on program directors.
During his tenure on the RRC, he was selected to represent neuroradiology as an ABR trustee. His many administrative contributions to the ABR included serving as chair of the Neuroradiology Exam Committee for eight years during a period of rapid change in board certification and exam methodology. As chair of the Subspecialty Certification Committee, he helped develop a new exam. He served as neuroradiology section chair for the “Exam of the Future” Committee and worked with the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) committees, the IR-DR Implementation Task Force, and an ACGME committee on radiology milestones. With the inception of the DR Neuroradiology OLA Committee in 2017, he served as a senior reviewer until his untimely passing.
Bob also believed that the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) should serve as a vehicle to enable its members to fulfill the requirements of the developing program for MOC, which he helped make happen. As ASNR president, he initiated discussions with the ABR to allow the neuroradiology recertification test to be given at the annual meeting.
Bob was a unique and exemplary servant leader to the ABR and organized radiology, but I believe it was his unbridled enthusiasm for his specialty that was most important in imprinting generations of those who followed in his footsteps. These are his “scientific children” and his lasting legacy. He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him well.